CCI: Radical's New Comics, Films

Last Friday at this year's San Diego Comic-Con International, Radical Publishing came out swinging at their panel discussion with three major announcements for the future of the company as their expansion into film and publishing continues.

The panel, which featured Radical creators and other industry professionals, saw the announcement of "Underworld: Evolution" director Len Weisman being signed on as director of the upcoming film "Shrapnel," based on the Radical Comics series of the same name created by Mark Long and Nick Sagan and written by M. Zachary Sherman.

"Usually, most of the directors we are involved with from Bryan Singer to Joe Kosinski to Peter Berg - we've solicited them by submitting the work, the presentation and so on. That was the first time a director actually called us," said Radical Publishing President Barry Levine. "He went into a bookstore the day the book was released and he bought the first issue and read it in the bookstore. He came in and ended up spending about two and a half hours with us. We just moved right into it. It's funny because a lot of people think that [Len Weisman] likes doing horror. Actually, he would do Sci-Fi for the rest of his life if he could."

Weisman joins a laundry list of other major Hollywood directors and producers signed on to direct films based on Radical Publishing properties including Bryan Singer, who has been contracted for "Freedom Formula," and Peter Berg, who has committed to "Hercules: The Thracian Wars."

According to Levine, Radical intends to let Weisman have a good amount of creative license with "Shrapnel," but intends to keep true to the spirit of the original series. "Len loves the book the way it is. I always tell people that the book is one thing, but the film is another. The book has to have a life of its own. We have a situation right now where we're giving two of our creators the opportunity to write their own scripts before we bring on a Hollywood screenwriter. We're doing that with Rick Remender on 'The Last Days of American Crime' and with David Hine with 'Ryder on the Storm.' Len wouldn't have wanted to become part of this situation if he didn't like the organic nature of the storytelling and art. You never know how it's going to change. Right now, the basics of the high concept, the character and the art of the book has formed his opinion on what this world is and why he wanted to get involved."

In addition to the news about Weisman and "Shrapnel," Radical also revealed "Abattoir," a new comics property from "Saw II," "III" and "IV" director Darren Bousman. "Actually, 'Abattoir' is 'Saw VI,'" laughed Levine. "I've always liked Darren, I talked to him about five years ago about another project and he was busy with his own personal project at the time. About six months ago, we sat down with him and loved the concept. It's a new franchise and it's very original. He really wanted us to head into finding another franchise, like with 'Saw.' He didn't create 'Saw,' he came in and wrote 'Saw II.' In essence, that wasn't his franchise - this is going to be his franchise."

"Also, one of the attractions for us was rather than being the standard shock-and-awe horror concept that this one had a much more character-driven component to it," said Radical Publishing Vice President Jesse Berger. "With the 'Saw' films, you're pretty much just about the gadgets and shocking the audience. 'Abattoir' has a much deeper mythology built into it. He was actually looking to tell a story as opposed to what he's previously been known for."

Levine and Berger also confirmed that the possibility is open for "Abattoir" to become a motion picture.

Radical's final major announcement of the panel followed hot on the heels of their revelation at this year's New York Comic Con concerning their move into releasing double-sized issues for all future projects at a cost of $4.99. In a surprising turn of events, Radical has announced that they will be moving into mass market distribution.

'The original business plan when Barry and I started together was always to go into Mass Market," said Berger. "The idea behind the mass market focus is that it's a different audience that goes into a bookstore than the audience that goes into the comic book store. We wanted to have these stories and mythologies penetrate deeper into the worldwide audience, whereas there's a finite number of actual comic book stores within the nation and worldwide. You have a much broader market when you talk about the mass market. That's always been a focus for our company and a long term goal starting three years ago. It's a pretty momentous occasion, finally having that level of distribution for it to be a synergistic relationship between Diamond Comic Distributors, but not to the extent we needed, and the actual publisher that we're going to be working with."

In addition to branching out into the mass market domestically, Radical will also be closing a deal overseas with one of the largest foreign publishers.

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